Brand Values

When you developed your brand positioning, you probably thought about heritage, cultural factors and how you are different from the competition. And that’s all good.

But if someone asked you for your brand’s mission, what would you say? Make money for the shareholders? Sell as much as possible? Nothing wrong with those goals, and everybody will understand you are in business to make money, but these days consumers may expect a little bit more from you.

They would ask what your values are, what you stand for. Especially younger audiences would want to know how your product is being produced, where your ingredients are from, and how sustainable your process is. How do you treat your staff, both in Singapore and overseas?

Having convincing and verifiable answers to these questions is almost a hygiene factor these days – it’s what is expected from brands, the minimum information that you need to give in order to be considered by millennials.

But the topics is even bigger than that – younger target groups and the politically aware are looking for brands whose values are consistent with their own. This is partly because they want to live authentic lives, and partly so they can answer any questions from their peers about why they use a specific brand.

So where do you stand in the world? And what is your position on global warming, on climate change, on political freedoms? Not every brand will need to have a fully developed policy statement, but at least being sustainable should be a given these days. And since not all brands are, it could even be a differentiator, a reason for people to choose you above the competition who may be a bit less aware.

Last year, as I was working for Audi the car brand, our most successful online film, the one that received the most views and positive comments, wasn’t about a new car. Some creative people had come to me with an idea that I believed in, and we went through considerable opposition to have this little film made. It showed an Arabic couple getting ready to go out, with the husband opening a series of doors for the wife. In the end, they arrive at their Audi, and that’s when she opens the passenger door for him and she herself gets into the driver’s seat. It was our contribution to welcome the women of Saudi Arabia to the driver’s seat, congratulating them for now being allowed to drive. It was authentic, and it did not have a strong sales message attached. We did not piggyback on their achievement but carefully associated with this cultural moment. That’s why it worked.

So it pays to look out for those cultural moments, special anniversaries whose message fits in nicely with your brand values. If it’s done well, the cultural moment can work as an elevator to bring your brand to the top, just by the power of the social message that you associate with, saving you big media investments and positioning your brand in a positive light at the same time.